Health Care

Texas v. United States

In Texas v. United States, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is considering the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

Case Summary

In 2010, Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance, decrease the costs of health care, and provide important protections to health care consumers. In April 2018, Texas and 19 other states filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, arguing that the law’s individual mandate provision is unconstitutional, and that the rest of the law is inseverable from that provision and therefore must also fall.  While the Department of Justice normally defends the validity of Acts of Congress when they are challenged in court, here the Department has joined the plaintiffs in attacking the validity of the individual mandate and has also argued that other key provisions of the law are inseverable from its individual mandate and thus should be invalidated.  The district court agreed with the plaintiffs, holding that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, that the mandate is inseverable from the rest of the ACA, and that the entire ACA therefore cannot stand.  California and other states that had previously intervened in the case appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Pursuant to H. Res. 6 (2019), the U.S. House of Representatives of the 116th Congress, represented by the General Counsel of the House of Representatives, CAC, and Munger, Tolles & Olson, moved to intervene as a defendant.  As the Supreme Court recognized in INS v. Chadha, “Congress is the proper party to defend the validity of a [federal] statute when an agency of government, as a defendant charged with enforcing the statute, agrees with plaintiffs that the statute is inapplicable or unconstitutional.”  Indeed, as the memorandum in support of the motion explains, the House of Representatives is entitled to intervene as of right because 28 U.S.C. § 530D empowers the House to intervene when the Attorney General fails to defend the constitutionality of an Act of Congress.  Moreover, as the memorandum further explains, none of the existing parties adequately represent the House’s unique institutional interest in this case, and the House timely filed its motion to intervene.

Case Timeline

  • January 3, 2019

    CAC, the General Counsel of the House of Representatives, and Munger, Tolles & Olson file a motion for the U.S. House of Representatives to intervene

    5th Cir. Motion to Intervene
  • February 8, 2019

    Government files opposition to the motion of the U.S. House to intervene

  • February 13, 2019

    CAC, the General Counsel of the House of Representatives, and Munger, Tolles & Olson file a reply in support of a motion for the U.S. House to intervene

    5th Cir. Reply
  • February 14, 2019

    The Fifth Circuit grants the U.S. House’s motion to intervene

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